Z-Out logo

Publisher: Rainbow Arts Price: £24.99

Having destroyed the satellite in orbit around Alpha Centauri, The X-Out pilots received a hero's welcome. However, the celebrations were to be short lived. The base's long-range radar scanners had picked up enemy transmissions from Alpha Centauri itself.
Facing an imminent enemy attack, the Federation has called upon you to fly a deadly mission right into the very heartlands of the alien planet. Code named Z-Out. Your flight will penetrate deep into the enemy defence system - there's no room for error, you must succeed.

Z-Out follows the time honoured tradition of shoot-' em-ups, its forefather, X-Out, took its inspiration from the classic coin-up R-Type and Z-Out adheres rigidly to this tried and tested formula.
There is, as you might expect, one major difference, the two-player option. Unlike other games of this ilk where players take turn at obliterating the alien slime-balls, Z-Out allows simultaneous monster mashing.

The game features six chaotic levels, peppered with crazy creatures, who are all out to get you. Each level also features two rather large adversaries. These humongous beasts represent middle and end-of-level guardians and take a fair bit of blasting.

Naturally, it is possible to build up your firepower by collecting icons dropped by aliens. In the game's single player mode your first addition is a front pod. This versatile unit acts both as a shield and far-ranging extension. Additional weapon systems may also be added to your arsenal, increasing your potential firepower to a formidable level. When the game is played in its team mode players won't get a pod. Instead, drones are collected. Each ship may have a maximum of two drones and when fully complemented, additional weapons are added.

In order to dispatch the larger aliens more quickly, you do possess a beam weapon. While holding the firebutton down your ship stores its energy and when you release it you'll see a huge fireball spew forth killing practically everything in its wake.
The game also lets you toggle between an ordinary fire mode and supercharged auto-fire. The latter option sees your ship letting fly with a constant stream of laser death.

Players start with five lives, which are progressively lost when your ship comes into contact with any part of the scenery or enemy craft. Additional ones can be collected throughout the game for performing various manoeuvres.

The game is lost when all your ships are destroyed or won when you finally put paid to the last end-of-level guardian.

Z-Out logo Amiga Format Gold

Rainbow Arts £24.99 * Joystick

High quality scrolling shoot-'em-ups are few and far between these days, The days when every other game had you flying a lone fighter craft into the depths of danger to save the universe are long gone. But to be honest it would be a shame if the genre died out completely. So it is nice to see a shoot-'em-up as impressive as Z-Out.

X, Y and Zee
The game continues the story from Rainbow Arts' previous blast. X-Out (which was not pronounced Crossout after all). The enemy forces on the Alpha Centauri moon have been destroyed which has thwarted their invasion plans. Celebrations however are short since signs of heavy military movements on the surface of the planet itself have been detected.

You are the head of the newly formed Z-Out attack team. It is your responsibility to attack the planet surface and put paid to the enemy forces plans of attack once and for all The High Command thought buying weaponry and ships from an independant dealer held up military planning and so now have decided to cut out the middle man on the latest mission and have come up with their very own fighter craft and weapons systems.

The mission begins when you are dropped at the outer reaches of the first defence zone, armed with a simple front cannon.

As you progress deeper into enemy territory you will come across various power-ups which contain weapons that can be bolted onto your ship to improve its firepower. The first item you pick up gives your ship a front-mounted pod, which protects you from bullets and smaller enemies and can be added to with further pick-ups.

If this all seems familiar, then that is probably because it is! In fact Z-Out is pretty much your standard progressive weapon shoot-'em-up. But originality is not really the point with a game of this type, the main emphasis has to be on the look and feel of the game.

Lovely Plumage
The first thing that hits you about Z-Out is the incredible amount of work that has gone into the game's stunning graphics. Some of the sprites and backgrounds are simply outstanding making the game look like it should be standing in an arcade rather than on a home computer. Fortunately, the care taken over the appearance does not mean the rest of the game has lost out. The sound effects and music that back the action are equally impressive, with some atmospheric tunes to set the tone of the frantic action. The title music contains the best piano sample I have heard in a piece of Amiga music, but then you would expect the sound to be good coming from Chris Huelsbeck who is the creator of the superb music tool TFMX.

So the presentation is good, but what of the gameplay? Well to tell the truth... it is extremely enjoyable! The sign of a good shoot-'em-up is when the collision detection is spot on and the control feels fluid, and when you are shot playing Z-Out you know that you are to blame for being hit! Not since Xenon II back in September 1989 has such an impressive shoot-'em-up appeared on the Amiga - and that is one of the best games ever!


The key to beating Z-Out is making the best use of the additional weapons
Z-out: Bouncing Flames BOUNCING FLAMES - shoot out diagonally and bounce off the walls.
Z-out: Extra Life EXTRA LIFE - an... er... extra life.
Z-out: Fusion Bomb FUSION BOMB - fires splitting boomerang shots.
Z-out: Flame-Thrower FLAME-THROWER - shoots flames that move up and down in sync with your ship.
Z-out: Streaker STREAKER - fires a lightning bolt. The satellites can also fire them on the second power-level.
Z-out: Rotator ROTATOR - causes your drone and satellites to turn into a rotating shield.
Z-out: Creep Bomb CREEP BOMB - shoots flames that follow the outline of any scenery they hit.

Z-Out logo

Erinnert Ihr Euch noch an "X-Out", der furiosen Ballerspaß von Rainbow Arts? Jetzt kommt der offizielle Nachfolgetitel mit einem nicht minder seltsamen Namen - und gleich ein exklusiver Testbericht dazu!

Überraschenderweise hat Z-Out viel mehr Ähnlichkeit mit Klassikern wie "R-Type" als mit seinem Vorgänger: Das Waffenmenü am Anfang ist verschwunden, stattdessen müssen die Extras nun wieder während des hektischen Spielverlaufs aufgesammelt werden - sozusagen "zurück zu den Wurzeln".

Und natürlich darf auch hier eine völlige überflüssige Hintergrundgeschichte nicht fehlen. Demnach ist der Spieler mit seinem Raumschiff nach Alpha Centauri unterwegs, um den Planeten in ein Häufchen Weltraummüll zu verwandeln. Schließlich haben dessen Bewohnern schon mehrmals versucht, unsere Erde zu erobern - und Strafe muß sein!

Man düst also mit seinem etwas winzig ausgefallenen Gefährt durch sechs sehr lange Level in sauberem Horizontalscrolling. Damit die Reise nicht zum Sonntagsausflug gerät, trifft man praktisch unentwegt auf feindliche Geschütze, gewaltige Monster, flinke Flugzeuge und aggressive Mini-Raumschiffe.

Bewaffnungstechnisch gibt es einmal die (kurzen und schnellen) Normalschüsse, bleibt man länger am Feuerknopf, wird eine mächtige Flamme abgefeuert - besonders günstig bei dickern Gegnern, die gleich mehrere Treffer verkraften. Als Schutzschild und treuen Begleiter gibt es eine Drohne, sie hält die meisten Schüsse und auch einige der Aliens ab.

Wer genügend Extras eingesammelt hat, kann die Drohne (per Spacetaste) auch auf die Gegner hetzen, denen sie dann die Energie abzieht. Daneben stehen zur Verteidigung noch Satelliten bereit, die sich mit den Cursortasten neben dem eigenen Raumschiff positionieren lassen.

Damit die fünf Bildschirmleben eine Weile ausreichen, sollte man von Anfang an fleißig Extrawaffen sammeln: Unter anderem gibt es da Drei-Wege-Feuer, Flammenwerfer, Bomben und "springende" Flammengeschoße, die von den Wänden zurückprallen.

Die Parallelen zu "R-Type" sind unübersehbar, dennoch kann Z-Out nicht ganz mit dem großen Vorbild konkurrieren. Zum einen ist die grafische Gestaltung nicht sooo spektakulär (besonders die Backgrounds sind manchmal ein bißchen einfallslos gestaltet), zum anderen ist der Schwierigkeitsgrad doch sehr, sehr hoch ausgefallen.

Selbst Baller-Profis sei daher empfohlen, im Zwei-Spieler-Simultanmodus einen Partner mitzunehmen - das macht nicht nur mehr Laune, sondern vereinfacht die Alienjagd auch ganz erheblich. Ansonsten kann man nicht meckern: Chis Huelsbecks Titelsoundtrack ist Klasse, und auch die packenden Melodien und FX während des Spiels sind nicht zu verachten.

Kurz und gut, Z-Out macht bestimmte keine schlechte Figur - es ist halt ein grundsolides Actiongame für Baller-Puristen.

Z-Out logo CU Screenstar

One of the better shoot ' em-ups of last year was Rainbow Arts' R-Type derivative, X-Out. Boasting a catalogue of add-on weapons that put both Blood Money and Xenon II to shame, and some of the best end-of-level guardians the Amiga has seen, the game won all sorts of critical acclaim - and rightfully so.

Thus, and following the likes of the film industry, it was inevitable that a sequel would be in the offing, and at long last - and with surprisingly little pre-release hype, - it has finally arrived. Z-Out's scenario picks up where X-Out left off, with your race celebrating the success of the X-Out mission. Interrupting the jubilation, though, comes news of another attack. Moving quickly, the government recalls you into action and briefs you on your mission: destroy the invaders home planet, and end their menace forever.

Aesthetically and technically, Z-Out seems very similar to its predecessor as both games sport six horizontally-scrolling levels each of which has a massive guardian waiting for you at the end of it. Likewise, whilst X-Out took its cue from a classic coin-op, Z-Out borrows quite heavily from its follow-up. However, despite its stale storyline and its similar façade, Z-Out is an extremely playable shoot' em-up.

Okay, so it doesn't offer a great deal over X-Out in terms of new gameplay features, but the graphics have been improved upon and now sport impressive organic and hi-tech looks in the style of H.R. 'Alien' Giger, whilst the enemy formations are faster and deadlier than those of the original. Similarly, the most important addition to the tried and trusted gameplay is a two-player mode which allows a friend to join in and share the blasting.

The horizontally-scrolling action begins with your pitifully-equipped ship evading numerous bullets as they pass, and the almost obligatory guardians who now appear both during a level as well as at the end. As can be expected, these are lethal, and contact with them or their bullets results in the loss of one of your five lives.

Making your task easier, though, and replacing the shop system from X-Out favoured, extra weapons are scattered randomly throughout the levels in the form of coloured capsules which appear when certain species of aliens are shot. Once collected, these endow your ship with all manner of strange but deadly devices, ranging from the ever-popular 'probe' device that protects your ship from oncoming bullets and can be sent ahead of you, to zig-zag bullets which penetrate even the most through of defences.

The most impressive display of weaponry, though, are the side-mounted cannons which not only can withstand constant hits from alien ships, but effectively triple your armaments - the only major problem, though, is that if you lose a life, all your collected weapons are lost.

Whilst not offering anything particularly new, Z-Out is a fast and furious blaster which puts most of its competitors to shame. The variety and quality of the graphics are, on the whole, excellent, with the Giger-inspired level three deserving a particular mention, with its Alien habitants sporting the piston-like jaws their film counterparts used!

In addition, the end-of-level and mid-way guardians are even better than those of X-Out, rounding off one of the most polished and addictive shoot ' em ups the Amiga has seen for months.

Z-Out logo

The 'brat pack' of shoot 'em ups - R-Type, Denaris, X-Out, Blood Money - are soon to have a new member with Z-Out. Or are they? David McCandless went all giggly and hung Z-Out posters all over his walls (and then shot himself for writing such a crap intro)...

If I came up to you in the street and said that this game is a left to right shoot ' em up, featuring manic spirals of relentless aliens, rows upon rows of armoured gun turrets, bizarre fiends jumping along the bottom of the screen and those little floaty icons that endow you with extra fire power - you'd probably shout something like "Help! Police! Who is this dipturd?"
But that's what Z-Out's all about. Death. Wholesome carnage. Annihilation on a grand scale. Six levels of sheer blood-letting and dismembered body parts.

Level one is the sci-fi level, backdropped with electronic components and hi-tech bits and bobs. Lots of little robotic ships loop about the ship, while ranks of gun turrets spew their bullets skyward. By complete contrast, on level two it's pony tails and lime green cords time. Yes, it's the 'green' level. Foliage, flora, fauna and flowers - they're all here. Also guest starring on this level - those massive metal conduits and rocket launching installations

The third takes you outside for a panoramic view of the alien world. Gasp! At the gravity defying upside mountains. Scream! At the slime laden nasties. Breath deeply! At the pretty shaded backdrop! Think carefully! About your next sentence. Er... level five takes your a resin-encrusted, slime smeared page from Alien, with its bio-mechanical walls and platforms. Lots of chest bursting, face-hugging, double jawed fun here.

Level six is the ultimate confrontation. It's just one big B.I.G. mother nasty. The biggest ever. At least eight screen of pulsating alien flesh. You must dive in and out, around and about, up and down (just like the third level of R-Type in fact).

Amiga review Macca: R-Type is the first that springs to mind when you play this game. Then as you get further, it keeps bouncing about your brain. R-Type, R-Type - this game is just like R-Type. And then you think, yeah, but X-Out was pretty similar to R-Type too. But then Z-Out doesn't have any of X-Out's endearing features; you remember, the ability to define your ship before you started and that slightly 'off the wall' underwater setting, all that.

Just like X-Out, Z is hard. Okay, I know. I know that. In fact, for your information, the reason why I couldn't progress more than three pixels in the first level is because I let the game beat me. Okay? Yeah, so the endless succession of alien scum had a hand, and so did the biggest blitter bast ever who was waiting at the end of the level. But I let the game beat me, okay? (It's quite hard. Ed.)

The graphics, though, are superbloomin' -perb. If you imagine the old R-Type primeval pixels jiggled about and 'remixed' with a 90's feel then you'll have some idea of Z-Out's graphics. Each level is very stylish, very colourful, very um, full bodied, yah? It seems a shame to ionise all the pretty aliens at times, but it has to be done. Sigh. Sound too is excellent, especially the atmospheric title music.

It may be a sequel, but Z-Out is less like X-Out and more like R-Type. No, it's more a hybrid of the two. If X-Out and R-Type got married and had babies, Z-Out would be like their baby son, with the characteristics of both. In fact Z-Out could probably appear on 'Stars in Their Eyes' and beat that Shirley Bassey woman with its impression of R-Type. (Eh? Ed.)

They both have the same ship design, same swirls of aliens, same power ups, same end of level mother-muthas. Which is sad really, since everybody seems to be getting bored of those left to right, extra weaponry clones. Me especially. Stop

Z-Out logo

Rainbow Arts, Amiga £19.99

The success of X-Out has ensured yet another alien menace looms over Earth, this time allowing two pilots to participate in the action.

Interestingly the game plays quite differently in one- and two-player modes. In the former there's seven different weapons to collect, each upgradable three times, and once you die you go back to the last restart position. There's also a drone and numerous satellites to collect.

In two-player mode there's only two add-on weapons (inactive until level three), but if you die the game still rolls on until all lives are lost. Whichever way you play, opposition is tough - six lengthy levels with numerous mega-monsters, walkers and high-speed attack formations.

Stuart Wynne Z-Out lacks the presentation of its predecessor and the initial graphics are somewhat bland; silky smooth scrolling and a Amiga palette of course, but a bit dull. But unlike most games the levels get better later on - the Alien level is superb - and the two-player mode is good fun. Going back to restart positions on the on-player game can be irritating, but the wide range of dramatic weaponry helps compensate. Z-Out offers little originality, but it's superbly executed and very tough!
Robin Hogg Z-Out sure is an addictive two-player blast - tempers can be lost as easily as it is to pick up the vital bonus pods (or lose a life!). Z-Out's influences are unsurprisingly a host of coin-ops but it's good to see it's got the graphic and sonic quality to them justice. Aside from the two-player mode there's little new over the likes of R-Type (or indeed X-Out) but if you want a challenge then this is certainly recommended.